PET OWNERSHIP GUIDELINES

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1 PET OWNERSHIP GUIDELINES

2 Introduction Suffolk Housing Society recognises the benefits that responsible pet ownership can bring but acknowledges that controls must be in place to prevent irresponsible pet ownership which can cause suffering to animals and nuisance to neighbours. This leaflet is designed to offer advice and guidance for any of our residents thinking about getting a pet, residents who have pets already and residents who may have concerns about or problems with a neighbours pet. The subjects covered in this leaflet are: Benefits and drawbacks of pet ownership - Page 3 Pets and the Law - Page 3 SHS s policy on keeping pets - Page 4 How to apply for permission to keep a pet - Page 4 Your agreement with the Society - Page 5 Responsible pet ownership - Page 6 What to do if a neighbours pet is causing a nuisance and what action the Society can take - Page 7 What to do if you suspect an animal is being neglected or suffering cruelty - Page 8 A list of useful contacts - Page 9 2

3 Benefits & drawbacks of pet ownership Research shows that animals that are well cared for and responsibly kept can be a positive addition to any community. Some studies have shown that pet ownership can have positive effects on children and the elderly and, can help to improve their owners health. There are downsides to Pet ownership and irresponsibly owned pets can be the cause of misery and suffering to both the animals themselves and those who live around them. Suffolk Housing Society wants to encourage responsible pet ownership so we set out later in this leaflet, things to think about before taking on a pet. Pets and the Law There are many laws concerning the keeping of animals, this section sets out just a few of them: Animal Welfare Act 2006 this places a duty of care on pet owners to provide for their animal s basic needs such as adequate food and water, veterinary treatment and a suitable living environment. The Act imposes penalties on those who inflict serious cruelty on animals and includes a new offence that means animals do not have to suffer for owners to be prosecuted under this Act. Dangerous Wild Animals Act the Society will not give permission to keep any pet registered under this Act, this includes certain types of venomous spider and snake. Control of Dogs Order 1992 this requires every dog in public to wear a collar bearing the name and address of its owner inscribed on it it is not sufficient for the dog to be microchipped or tattooed. The owner or responsible person may be prosecuted and fined if the dog is not wearing a collar when out in public. Dangerous dogs Act 1991 the Society will not give permission to keep any dog specified in this Act. Dog owners should also note that section 3 of this Act applies to all dogs and makes it a criminal offence to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place and this includes where there is simply fear that an injury might occur. Environmental Protection Act 1990 Section 70 states that it is an offence to keep any animal in place or manner that is prejudicial to health, causes a nuisance or emits noise from a building that causes a nuisance. Examples of such behaviour include excessive barking, a large number of dogs running loose or keeping an excessive number of cats. 3

4 Our policy on keeping pets The Society is generally supportive of the wish of its residents to keep pets providing they do so responsibly, however, we will only allow residents to keep pets that we consider are suitable and in such numbers as we think reasonable. There may also be certain housing schemes where we will not consider it appropriate for pets to be kept. Pets generally considered to be suitable include the following: Domestic cats and dogs Small animals such as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, gerbils and domestic rats Small birds such as canaries and budgerigars (if suitably caged) Fish Non-poisonous insects and spiders if appropriately tanked and contained Non-poisonous snakes and reptiles if appropriately tanked and contained We will not give permission for a dog or a cat in houses where the household already has 2 dogs or 2 cats or one of each. Neither will we give permission where there is an on-going problem with pet ownership in the household or where there has been a problem in the past. We will not give permission to keep more than one dog or cat in a flat or maisonette where there is no direct access to a private garden and we may not give permission for large dogs to be kept in flats at all. Permission to keep pets We would not expect you to apply for permission to keep a goldfish but we do expect you to ask our permission to keep most other types of pet. We have an application form that we expect you to complete that gives us details of the pet. You will not be allowed to keep a pet until we have received the application and consent forms, and, formally approved the request. You will be expected to sign a consent form which will be appended to your tenancy agreement. The form asks you to agree to be responsible for the pet, to ensure that it does not cause a nuisance to others and to confirm that you understand that the Society will take action against you which could, in extreme circumstances, result in the loss of your home if you break the agreement. 4

5 Your agreement with the Society Tenancy agreements with the Society do not permit pets to be kept without permission and cats and dogs are not, with the exception of assistance dogs, permitted to be kept in flats unless there is direct, personal access to a garden. The consent form that you will be asked to sign to keep a pet is a therefore a variation to the terms of your tenancy and as such becomes a legally binding document. The consent form that you will be asked to sign will set out the following: Residents must not keep a pet without prior consent from the Society. The Society may withdraw consent if a nuisance is caused or it is considered that the number of animals should be restricted. Dogs should be exercised on a lead if on communal areas of an estate or scheme. If an animal fouls any area the mess should be cleared up and disposed of appropriately and immediately by the owner. Pets must not cause nuisance to neighbours, this includes noise nuisance and animals which are allowed to stray. Pets must not cause damage to your home. If your pet damages your home, for example chews the fixtures or fittings, you will be recharged the cost of putting right the damage. Similarly if your pet damages any of the communal areas you may be expected to meet the cost of professional cleaning or repair of any damage caused. Residents cannot run a business from their home, this includes breeding animals for sale or running boarding kennels. 5

6 Responsible pet ownership Pet ownership comes with responsibilities and before deciding to get a pet there are a number of questions that you need to ask: Will the pet fit in with your lifestyle? Are you out of the property a lot of the time, does the animal suit your physical abilities and environment? For example, a dog would not be suitable for someone who is housebound but fish, a rabbit or bird may well be. Is your accommodation suitable? Do you have easy access to open spaces or do you live near a busy road and if you live in a flat, is it really suitable for the type of pet that you would like to keep? How much is it going to cost? You need to factor in the cost of initial purchase, food, equipment, bedding etc. but also think about the additional costs of vets bills, regular vaccinations and medication etc. What will happen to the pet if you are away from home, for example on holiday? If you are thinking of a dog, how will you exercise it? Dogs cannot be allowed to roam, they must be walked on a lead, nor can they be left barking in the property or garden all day. Other things to think about: You need to make sure that you can house the pet properly and securely. You need to make sure that you can keep it in a manner that ensures its physical and psychological well-being so that it doesn t get stressed when left alone and cause a noise nuisance or become destructive. You need to make sure that the animal is properly trained, this is particularly important in the case of dogs. You need to think about insurance for your pet and micro-chipping especially for dogs. You need to think about limiting the number of pets that you have and take advice about neutering. If you live in a sheltered scheme, what arrangements can you make if you are unable to exercise the animal, especially dogs? 6

7 What to do if your neighbour s pet is causing a nuisance Some examples of behaviour that the Society would treat as a nuisance; Excessive noise such as barking, howling or crying Roaming and unattended animals Aggressive animals Unpleasant odours from pets in communal areas or directly into the home Too many animals being kept by one household Pets fouling in communal areas or private gardens and not being cleared up immediately It is important to remember that pet owners may be unaware of nuisance being caused by their pet such as noise when they are out of the home so it is always a good idea, if you can, to make a friendly personal approach in the first instance to point out the behaviour and bring it to the owner s attention. If you are experiencing problems with a neighbours pet we would make the would suggest that you try to sort out the matter informally; Take action early, don t wait until the situation is unbearable. Don t jump to conclusions and don t make unfounded accusations Try to remain calm and do not become abusive Walk away if you feel at risk at all If you have tried an informal approach and haven t been successful, let us know and we will try to approach the owner as well. 7

8 What action the Society can take concerning nuisance pets There are a range of formal actions that can be taken if the problem cannot be dealt with amicably or informally, these include: Arranging for a professional mediator to become involved and work with the parties concerned. Withdrawing permission for the pet(s) to be kept. Restricting the number of animals kept at the property if this is likely to resolve the problem. Drawing up an Acceptable Behaviour Contract with the person concerned this is a formal agreement signed by the person, the Society and, if appropriate, the police and would include responsible pet ownership. If the problem affects a number of residents it may be more appropriate to consider a Neighbourhood Agreement which is agreed by residents and establishes a set of rules describing what is acceptable behaviour for their area. Responsible pet ownership could form part of this agreement. Involving statutory organisations such as the Local authority environmental health department or the Police. Involving voluntary organisations such as the RSPCA Serving an injunction to oblige the owner to start or stop undertaking certain actions or to remove the animal What you should do if you suspect cruelty or neglect If you suspect that a neighbour is guilty of cruelty or neglect towards an animal then you should report it to the RSPCA. They have a 24 hour National Cruelty and Advice line on They will ask you a series of questions about your concerns and they will keep your details confidential. 8

9 Useful contacts for advice or assistance Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Website: Phone: general number for advice: hour national Cruelty and Advice line: Address (national) : RSPCA Enquiries Service, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex. RH13 9RS The Dogs Trust: The Dogs trust is a dog welfare charity providing advice on all aspects of dog ownership. It has centres across the country for dogs looking for new homes and campaigns on animal welfare issues. It also subsidises neutering and provides free micro-chipping in certain areas. Website: Phone: Address: Dogs Trust, Head Office, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ Cats Protection: Cats Protection is a charity which provides advice on cat care and runs a rescue service and rehoming service for cats. It may provide financial assistance with neutering cats. Website: Helpline: General enquiries: Address: National Cat Centre, Chelwood Gate, Sussex. RH17 7TT PDSA (People s Dispensary for sick animal Website: Phone: Address: Whitechapel Way, Priorslee, Telford, Shropshire. TF2 9PQ 9

10 Useful contacts for advice or assistance Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund Website: Phone: Address: Rabbit Welfare Association, PO Box 603, Horsham, West Sussex. Federation of British Herpetologists (Reptiles & amphibians) Website: Cinnamon Trust: Operates a network of dog walkers and foster carers across the UK for elderly and terminally ill owners. Website: Phone:

11 Notes 11

12 Suffolk Housing Society Old Mission House St Botolph s Lane Bury St Edmunds Suffolk IP33 2AX T: E: 12

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